An arts conservatory of international renown, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts was the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School opened as the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1965 after nearly a million dollars was raised to win the new school for Winston-Salem. In 1972, the School became part of the prestigious University of North Carolina system.
The School’s mission is unique: to train students from middle school through graduate school for professional careers in the performing, visual, and film and television arts. Performance is an integral part of the training program, and students, faculty and guest artists present more than 400 public performances and screenings annually in the School’s facilities in Winston-Salem, as well as across the state and the Southeast, in major U.S. cities and overseas.
Five professional schools make up the University of North Carolina School of the Arts: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. With its full academic program, the School is accredited to award the high school diploma, the College Arts Diploma, the Professional Artist Certificate, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Students must audition or interview for admission to UNCSA. Of the more than 1,000 students enrolled, half come from two-thirds of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Half come from 45 other states (from New York to California) and nearly two dozen foreign countries (from Germany to Japan).
Students study with resident master teachers who have had successful careers in the arts – from New York City Ballet to the Los Angeles Philharmonic – and who remain active in their professions. Noted guest artists such as filmmaker Spike Lee and actor Mandy Patinkin frequently bring lessons directly from the contemporary arts world.
University of North Carolina School of the Arts alumni have performed in or behind the scenes of Broadway shows, film, television and regional theatre, and are members of the world’s finest symphony orchestras and opera and dance companies. They have won or been nominated for all of the major awards in the entertainment industry, including Tony, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and others. Among the best-known are Gillian Murphy, principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre; Tony Fanning, art director for theatre and film (WAR OF THE WORLDS); Mary-Louise Parker, Tony Award-winning actress (“Proof”); David Gordon Green, filmmaker who made the critically acclaimed GEORGE WASHINGTON and ALL THE REAL GIRLS; and Lisa Kim, violinist with the New York Philharmonic.